Life after Yggdrasil: Watering the Ash

Discussion in 'Digital: DACs, USB converters, decrapifiers' started by Torq, Mar 1, 2017.

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  1. atomicbob

    atomicbob dScope Yoda

    Pyrate BWC MZR
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    @Torq : I have a Ross Martin PCM1794A if you wish to include it in the DAC off round X.
     
  2. Clemmaster

    Clemmaster Friend

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    I hope Ross Martin is better at designing DACs than he is at taking pictures of them... :eek:
     
  3. Torq

    Torq MOT: Headphone.com

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    Sure, why not!

    I'll ping you offline to sort that out then!
     
    Last edited: Mar 8, 2017
  4. Torq

    Torq MOT: Headphone.com

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    Hegel

    HD 30 (-)

    This isn’t a “pure” DAC. It’s also an Ethernet streamer, supporting DLNA/UPnP, and a digital pre-amp. This is worth bearing in mind, as it shifts the value proposition a bit closer to sanity than would otherwise be the case.

    The design approach is pretty typical in the audiophile world. Good PSU design, with separate supplies where they make sense, tweaked clock design, and thoughtful layout. Nothing earth shattering there, but at least most of the fundamentals were hit. Build is nice – nothing spectacular, and the aesthetics are simple but agreeable.

    This is another dual-mono AKM 4490 based unit and that largely comes across in the way it renders music. The sound is clean, fast, detailed, and dynamic, perhaps a tiny bit warm down low, and has a very slight softening at the frequency extremes – but also some nice shimmer (with no fatigue) in the treble (an odd combination, but it is what it is).

    Instrumental timbre and tone was realistic and believable. Perhaps not on the same level, again, as I found with the ESS units, but not much in it. Yggdrasil was more convincing with piano, brass and plucked strings however, and also exhibited better separation and layering, as well as a better sense of micro details.

    Cymbals lost something for me here … at least compared to the Schiit DAC. While the shimmer was present, it didn’t do as convincing a job with brush-work, for me.

    Imaging was … not bad … but nothing special – beaten, for me, by, say, the Chord Mojo or any of the ESS based units, never mind Yggdrasil.

    Presentation was nicely musical and quite engaging. None of the, for want of a better word, “sterility” that I got from the Bryston BDA-3. Music bopped along at a nice pace, with good rhythm and a solid, tuneful foundation. It wasn’t hard to get lost in the music, though it was never as fully emotive as Yggdrasil or my Spring DAC.

    Using the Ethernet interface did not result in any noticeable shift in sound, for better or worse, than simply feeding it via its AES/EBU input. I think that’s a first … which either says good things about their AES/EBU implementation or just means they couldn’t improve it via the Ethernet feed (which isn’t a negative … it’s just what it is).

    The HD30 is more along the lines of what I imagined the Bryston BDA-3 would sound like. Only it didn’t. For me the HD30 was a quite enjoyable and involving listen, where as the BDA-3 just … well … wasn’t. Now, the Hegel is about $1300 more expensive than the Bryston, or the comparable ESS DACs in this line-up. Given that the unit is also a streamer and a pre-amp I can see some justification for that – in fundamental terms at least.

    However, sonically, this doesn’t better Yggdrasil in any facet of it’s output for me. And you can turn Yggdrasil into a streamer with any number of products (SonicOrbiterSE, microRendu, Auralic Aries and so on), and do so for barely over half the price of the Hegel unit.

    And then, for what they’re asking, if I really wanted this functionality, I’d buy a Linn Majik DSM over this without hesitation. The Linn sounds better, is a lot more flexible, and gives you access to “Space Optimization” (room and speaker placement correction), “Exakt” compatibility, a proper phono stage, headphone output AND a built in 90 WPC power-amp for about $300 LESS than the Hegel.
     
  5. Torq

    Torq MOT: Headphone.com

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    exaSound

    e22 Mk2 DAC (-)

    [Note: This DAC appears to be discontinued, and prior links to the product page now redirect to a newer version ... the e32]

    My feelings about this DAC have wandered a bit over time (and weren’t very positive initially), but I think I’ve settled on a consistent impression of the thing. And I actually wound up auditioning this DAC twice …

    The first time I only used the S/PDIF interfaces, which is, per an earlier post, my general preference in the absence of an AES interface. What I didn’t realize in my first audition was that exaSound provide dedicated OS X drivers for this (Core Audio and ASIO) … so I wound up re-auditioning it using those.

    Now, I’ll kick off by saying that I did not hear any difference at all using their drivers vs. just running it on the standard S/PDIF interface. However, the drivers did enable me to run quad-rate DSD (DSD256) from OS X without any drop-out issues (unlike with Chord’s units) – albeit required using a different player than I usually do, which wouldn’t wash on a day-to-day basis. Sadly, all DSD seems to do for me on a reliable basis is make the file size HUGE without any reliably audible increase in “quality”. BUT one or two DACs I’ve listened to so far made a better showing with DSD than they did with some pieces in PCM – this was one of them, though that still didn’t elevate it over Yggdrasil playing the same music via PCM.

    Rambling over … on to the sound …

    My initial notes have “insubstantial” as an early comment on the overall sound, but I later revised this to “light without being bright”. Ultimately, I wound up settling on “neutral, perhaps edging towards clinical or dry”. Despite this, it wasn’t fatiguing at all, but it wasn’t as emotive as I would have liked either. It was quite fast and energetic at times, which was very enjoyable with the right music – though with the Abyss that could get a little much at times.

    The e22 projects a very wide soundstage … perhaps overly so … particularly when using my Abyss or HD800S. With speakers it was almost unnaturally wide, but obviously shallower than with Yggdrasil. Height, also, suffered some in comparison to the Schiit DAC (not really a concern for headphone listening). The image was very solid, however … and I got the sense I could walk between the instruments/players with both small Jazz pieces and major orchestral works.

    Detail was excellent, without the sense of exaggeration that I found with the Auralic Vega. Tone was very good, though I preferred Yggdrasil’s rendering of piano and brass and, still, detailed cymbal work was still on the side of the Schiit product. Transparency and instrumental separation/layering was quite competitive, particularly with vocals and vocal harmonies, but not quite at Yggdrasil’s level (to be fair, the difference was slight and not apparent on every recording).

    I think, re-reading the above, things sound a bit more negative than they really are. It’s not really my preferred signature or level of “musicality” (which probably really only means anything to me) but it was still technically rather proficient and I wound up quite liking the thing, which was rather against expectations.

    If I needed DSD support, particularly in an OS X (macOS, I guess, now) environment, and this was $2,000 instead of $3,499, this would be a contender. And since Yggdrasil won’t do DSD, if that really was a requirement I’d have to scratch my price objection.

    I would take this over the Ayre QB-9 DSD or the Vega .

    As it is, I don’t feel it quite measures up to Yggdrasil – even if prices were equal, and, at its normal asking price, would be well on the wrong side of the value equation for me.
     
  6. Torq

    Torq MOT: Headphone.com

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    Linn

    Before talking about the individual units here, and how they perform, I should explain what they actually are, as they are much more than just DACs. In short, each DSM, referred to as a “Network Music Player” unit comprises:
    • An Ethernet streamer (among the first products of this type)
    • DAC w/ custom FPGA up-sampling and filtering
    • Headphone amplifier
    • Phono stage (MM/MC selectable) w/ RIAA EQ handled in the digital domain
    • Analog and Digital pre-amp (14 inputs, mixed between analog and digital)
    • RCA and XLR analog outputs
    • Digital outputs (HDMI, TOSLINK, COAX)
    • Space Optimization (room mode/speaker position correction processing)
    • 4x Exakt Links (a proprietary Linn technology, see below).
    They either pull files over Ethernet from an DLNA/UPnP/OpenHome server, stream from TIDAL, QOBUZ, Tune-In Radio, AirPlay, Songcast - or play a local analog or digital source. Roon support is under discussion (again, though this time it looks like it will go somewhere).

    All analog inputs are digitized and handled in the digital domain. This allows for things like a software-implemented digital RIAA EQ (MUCH more accurate than can be done with analog implementations). And that can be upgraded, over the network, as it is run off the FPGA, just like the up-sampling and filtering algorithms.

    Upgrades occur relatively regularly and for the most part deliver noticeable improvements in performance. There are occasional situations when the community at large doesn’t like a change, and they can revert to earlier code if they want to, but generally things keep moving forward. This is, as with the PS Audio DACs, a potentially huge benefit.

    Now, all of that sounds like just the sort of thing a lot of audiophiles would hate. Everything analog being digitized, processed, and then converted back to analog using the internal DAC and filters before exiting via the analog outputs?! And, as such, if you feed it an analog source, it’s only going to sound as good as the internal A/D* and D/A processing. Fortunately, that happens to be very good indeed and, in the case of my turntable, it’s a lot better than the discrete phono-stage and EQ I used to have before.

    But, With ALL input fundamentally being digital before it hits the sound processing and DAC stages, it’s possible for the Linn units to perform room optimization (room EQ) correction. This is user configurable, simple to set up, yields excellent results already and is getting more and more capable over time. And Linn already support hundreds of third-party speakers for this model, as the system takes the attributes of a given speaker into account (unsupported speakers are modeled as point sources).

    That’s a lot of functionality.

    What is “Exakt”?

    Exakt” is the end-game (well, okay, to be specific, the latest “Katalyst” equipped version of “Exakt” is the current end-game, but that’s more in the details of the DAC internals), right now, for Linn and it does some interesting things. The first is that it keeps the signal purely in the digital domain for as long as possible. This involves putting the DACs and power-amps as close to the speaker as possible. In fact, with Linn’s own speaker line, the DAC, “Exakt engine” and power-amps are IN the speaker itself. You just give them power and a run an Ethernet cable to them and you’re done. External options exist for some third party speakers, such as the B&W 802 D2.

    These “Exakt” speakers have been very accurately measured at the factory (every individual drive unit is measured and those numbers are kept). When you set the system up, you give it the serial numbers for your speakers, it phones home and gets the measurements, and then the Exakt engine on the speaker applies SPEAKER level corrections to correct phase, timing and EQ for that specific speaker. It also acts as a digital cross-over. And the drivers are then individually driven by a high-end dedicated amplifier.

    The combination of “Exakt” and “Space Optimization” allows for incredibly accurate reproduction and relative freedom (“it cannae change the laws of physics”) of placement for your speakers.

    It’s an interesting approach, and not without its drawbacks. System lock-in is one. It works at its best in an all-Linn system, and if you want to use Exakt your options for third-party speakers are extremely limited.

    And this is all Linn gear. For anyone familiar with Linn that’ll telegraph at least one other piece of information:

    This stuff ain’t cheap!

    While you can get into an all-Linn setup, if that takes your fancy, for under $5K, the real fun is a bit more expensive. In fact, if you want to go with an integrated Exakt system (so a DSM Network Music Player and integrated-Exakt speakers, which are the only two components you need) your entry level is … $30,000.

    Of course, you save on interconnects and speaker cables, since there won’t be any, but that’s not really much comfort in the grand scheme of things!

    Anyway, now that I’ve babbled on about what the system is, I’ll get back to talking about the actual DSM units, and for these purposes I’m focusing on them as a) DACs, since they can be used that way (wasteful and a bit pointless, but it can be done) and b) as all-in-one streamer w/ DACs.

    All comments will, herein, be limited to their use driving their analog outputs into a conventional headphone or speaker amplifier.

    NOTE: This is not really a very realistic comparison. I would not include the Linn units in this evaluation if I didn’t already own one, and have extensive experience with the others, as they’re not directly comparable functionally. That skews the price differentials quite a bit, but I thought it’d be an interesting comparison anyway.

    Anyway, onwards!

    --

    Akurate DSM (-) (*)

    This was, at the time I bought it, several years ago now, the best digital music reproduction I had heard (excepting Linn’s own “Klimax” model).

    Linn systems tend towards a very musical and detailed presentation albeit tilted towards the analytical and dry side of “musical” – though it’s never proven to be fatiguing at all. That’s as best as I can describe the “house sound” anyway. It’s a product of the technology, rather than a “voicing” thing.

    You won’t find euphony here.

    What you will find is oodles of detail, excellent handling of spatial cues and solid imaging, PRaT as good as I’ve ever heard, and a clean, dynamic and pure sound.

    Used as a DAC, via the direct digital inputs, the Akurate DSM (now superseded by the DSM/1, see below) is good, but it bested pretty much across the board by Yggdrasil. The Linn remains ahead in terms of PRaT, and is similarly neutral and transparent, but from there the Schiit DAC runs away with the show.

    Even imaging, a strength of Linn’s sources (though not necessarily their classic speaker lines), and especially their custom FPGA up-sampling and filtering, is notably better on Yggdrasil.

    Interestingly Yggdrasil driven off the S/PDIF interface of the Linn, and feeding the Linn over Ethernet sounds better than the Yggdrasil driven directly via the same inputs from a non-network source.

    For our purposes Yggdrasil yields the better sound quality and is much cheaper. The Linn only makes sense if you want to use it for all or most of its other capabilities, or, especially, in its “Exakt” configuration – which is a speaker-only thing.


    Akurate DSM/1 (-) (*) (!)

    Linn upgraded some of the hardware in the Akurate DSM and offered it both directly as a new unit, as well as giving existing owners a simple upgrade path to the latest hardware. This new unit is called the “Akurate DSM/1” and it is functionally the same as the original DSM.

    I took advantage of this upgrade option and this is the unit that currently drives my speaker system.

    The new hardware includes a re-layout of the board, improves the already best-in-class noise and PSU performance. It also includes a new clocking scheme and more accurate clocks.

    The result is a pretty significant upgrade in terms of sound quality.

    Micro-details are now on, or at least much closer to, the level of Yggdrasil. Dynamics are also in the same ballpark. Imaging has improved, but Yggdrasil remains usefully ahead here. And I think the Schiit unit remains more accurate in terms of tone/timbre.

    The (!) comes in in two areas:
    • First, because... again, Yggdrasil sounds even better when run from the Linn via S/PDIF than directly from another, conventional S/PDIF source. While that was also the case with the earlier version of the Akurate DSM, things have taken a step forward with the latest update - to the degree that using the Akurate DSM/1 as a transport into the Yggdrasil beats out using a RedNet 3 in the same capacity. In fact you need to add a Mutec MC-3+ to the RedNet unit to bring things even. Now, just using the Linn in this manner is massively cost-prohibitive unless you already have the gear and are just looking to upgrade the DAC portion of the system, but if you do - it's a nice option.
    • Second, Linn, taking advantage of the field-updatable aspect of their FPGA-based filtering, oversampling and other processing, have issued various software upgrades since I did the first version of this evaluation, which have pushed the DSM units closer and closer to Yggdrasil. While there are some areas I just don’t think they’re going to match (the limit, is, I guess ultimately imposed by the Linn’s internal D/S DAC chip … there are some things that R2R just seems to handle innately more proficiently) the improvements are still audible and welcome. During that time, those updates have been focusing on better Space Optimization (room correction) and improved digital filtering. The most notable affect from the more recent filter updates has been an increase in tonal/timbral accuracy, to the point where real concentration is required to tell the units apart … but, still, the DSM isn’t beating Yggdrasil here … it’s very close to meeting it though - certainly more so than before.
    Ultimately, for pure musical purposes, the Yggdrasil still wins out … and does so at a quarter the cost of the DSM. True, it’s JUST a DAC, vs. a highly integrated streamer, DAC, pre-amp, headphone amp, etc. But it is DACs we’re evaluating.

    I will say this, however …

    Musically, overall, I would take a Linn Exakt system (say the Akurate DSM/1 w/ Exakt Akudorik or Akubarik speakers) over the Yggdrasil and conventional amplification/speakers**. Of course, that’s a very different evaluation and vastly more expensive. It’s also speaker-centric.

    But in conventional system, Yggdrasil still beats the Akurate DSM/1 (with its latest filters etc.) in my listening.

    This is the system I currently run in my speaker rig, incidentally – so even though I’ve already bought and paid for it, I’m not above ranking Yggdrasil where it belongs. No favoritism or “it costs more so it must sound better” nonsense here.

    The only thing that has stopped me putting another Yggdrasil into my speaker system is the fact that I just switched it to an integrated Exakt system … so it won’t work and isn’t necessary there.

    Klimax DSM/1 (-) (!)

    Update: Note that this unit has been replaced in Linn's catalog with the Klimax DSM/2 (or DS/3). Impressions for the new version are here and are very different to the "/1" version.

    We’re into the realm of $23K or so here for the Linn piece ... Brexit pricing follies etc. not-withstanding. It's also worth nothing that this unit has been superseded by the Klimax DS/3 and DSM/2 ... both of which implement the "Katalyst" architecture for improved D/A (and A/D) performance. So a DSM/1 will be used or demo unit if you happen across one at this point.

    Cutting to the chase here, as a DAC … Yggdrasil still wins overall. The margins are a little bit smaller in some areas, and with the more recent software updates are deep into "audition-style-listening" to weed out on a specific-technicalities level, but taken as a whole Yggdrasil manages to be more musically satisfying and still takes it on several of the technical aspects of evaluation.

    Again the (!) relates to both the performance of the Klimax unit as a network transport and how far it has been developed with software updates. I won't repeat the details here, they're covered in the Akurate DSM/1 notes above.

    The Klimax unit is tempting in the context of a higher end turntable setup, as one of the changes in the Klimax (vs. the Akurate level stuff) is improved A/D conversion. In an Exakt configuration, from digital sources, Klimax sounds the same as the Akurate DSM/1 … since all the actual conversion and so on happens in the speaker’s Exakt engine/amps and not in the source!

    --

    *As good, or better than, any of the studio A/D units I've had in my hands.
    **This is, in fact, the direction I have taken my speaker rig in for day to day use (I retain the necessary Linn Akurate analog pre-amp and 4200-series power-amps for conventional evaluations).
     
    Last edited: May 15, 2017
  7. Torq

    Torq MOT: Headphone.com

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    I will be addressing the updated Klimax DSM/3 (with "Katalyst" architecture") in a separate post. Likely after I've finished migrating and updating the remaining DACs in the "already auditioned" list.

    This is partly because it's a bigger write-up and might break the post-size limits if combined with the existing Linn notes, partly because doing it this way will get things finished faster and, mostly, because that unit has a (+) on it ... and I'm a bastard. ;)
     
  8. Torq

    Torq MOT: Headphone.com

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    Luxman

    DA-06 (-)


    No … no … no …

    I found this lacking in detail retrieval compared to the Vega (which is, I find, a bit artificial in that realm), but also the exaSound, my Linn units, all of the Chord products (including the Mojo) and, of course, given my comments on the other units so far, Yggdrasil.

    The bottom end was a bit warmer, maybe even tending towards lush (which for bass I don’t really consider to be a good thing), than the Schiit DAC.

    With my LCD-4 the soundstage was not very apparent at all, to the point that it came across as being almost closed-in and, with very small works, a bit claustrophobic. It was a bit better with the Abyss and HD800S, but still not as good in this area as I would expect even from much lower-end hardware.

    Overall, it’s actually really quite musical and in a very relaxing way (I dozed off at the start of the 2nd act of "Carmen"). But it lacked real engagement (or involvement, if you prefer) for me, regardless of what I played through it. It’s very smooth in its presentation, to the point that I felt that music with real bite had the edge taken off it somewhat … which was a problem when the bite there was intentional. Though it did handle less-well-done recordings very nicely and filed off their rough edges somewhat.

    Vocals were lovely and buttery smooth … though again, sometimes perhaps where they shouldn’t be.

    So that’s good and bad, at the same time, and leaves things a bit confused.

    I was coming off the back of a bunch of, top-end-lively (and/or super-detailed) DACs when I heard this, so I thought that might be coloring my initial impressions. But, back to back with Yggdrasil, at home, those impressions didn’t change much.

    DSD and PCM playback both exhibited the same basic traits and I couldn’t really say one was better or worse than the other.

    I can see this fitting very well in any system that tends towards brightness or sterility, but I don’t think it’s technically competitive with DACs costing much less.

    Totally different presentation to Yggdrasil, but comes at more than double the price and while managing to be very musical, doesn’t really stand up in other categories. Definitely not for me. Your mileage may vary.
     
  9. Big D Design

    Big D Design RIP 2021

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    Very informative thread. You deserve kudos times 10.

    Yggdrasil is still "King" eh?

    I wish I could get an audition of it.
     
  10. Torq

    Torq MOT: Headphone.com

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    McIntosh

    MHA100 (-) (!)

    “Oh dear …”

    That’s the first thing that comes to mind here. It was when I originally auditioned the MHA100, and despite several extended sessions since then, with two different units, it remains the sentiment with which I regard this unit.

    Some things have changed a bit since then, though. For one, I’ve had more time with some of the other units that I found to, shall we say, “somewhat embarrassingly” outperform the McIntosh. For another, I’ve heard it driving speakers now – not mine, and not in my system, but driving speakers nonetheless.

    As with my original thoughts, it’s still a little hard to know where to start with this thing. And, once again, perhaps I should begin by saying that the McIntosh MHA100 is a bit out of place in this evaluation. It’s not just a DAC, but is instead an integrated DAC, pre-amp, speaker amplifier and quite fancy headphone amplifier.

    You wouldn’t buy this as just a DAC unless you were insane.

    Bifrost, Mojo, even Modi MB, never mind Yggdrasil, completely obliterate the performance of the built-in DAC (tested by running each of them into the MHA100 via it’s analog inputs and totally bypassing the internal DAC). Okay, so, hyperbole aside, the MHA100 doesn’t have the slight sense of veil that the Modi MB exhibits (at least compared to more resolving DACs), and the MHA100 doesn’t exhibit the roll-off that the Mojo seems to have, and doesn’t kill the sense of air like Chord’s little bugger … but, still, the built-in DAC is not, in anyway, impressive and all four of the other units I mentioned are more musically engaging and, I’d say, technically adept.

    This is certainly a very stylish unit … in an “if you like that sort of thing, it’s the sort of thing you like” kind of way. Vue-meters, with their soft blue glow, are perennially mesmerizing. I’m sure it appeals to the dedicated McIntosh crowd. I’d need to be on the happy side of several large Scotches to comment positively on the aesthetics. I do understand the visual appeal; I just don’t share it.

    The MHA100 is built like a tank. Get yourself a trebuchet and you could lay siege to entire nations with a stack of these things. It feels “reassuringly expensive” and, unlike many units, you won’t find yourself questioning the build-quality vs. price.

    Performance is another matter …

    As a headphone amplifier, with or without using the internal DAC, I found it lackluster. Presentation was very laid back and smooth, and while quite pleasant in an “easy listening” kind of way, it was completely un-engaging, lacking in macro dynamics and slam, and never really seemed to exert the authority (regardless of output mode), I’m used to over the headphones I was testing with (originally the LCD-4, Abyss and HD800S, and more recently also with the Utopia).

    I think the best thing I could say about it is that it was sonically inoffensive. It doesn’t do a lot obviously wrong. It’s just that it doesn’t do anything that’s notably “right”, beyond its overall tonal balance.

    Now, sometimes, especially with DACs and headphones, I find that things that are initially “very exciting” rapidly become “quite flawed”. And, equally, things that don’t really call attention to themselves in any particular fashion turn out to be the long-term stars. In this case, however, it’s just too laid back, too middle-of-the-road, and not dynamic enough to bring my music to fully emotive life.

    There are various settings on the MHA100. One of the headline features, in fact, is the “auto-former” which is essentially a multi-tap transformer that allows you to vary the output impedance of the unit (user selectable). This is not a bad idea, although no matter what setting I used with any of the cans I’ve tried it with I was unable to spark life into what I was hearing with these settings. Similarly, employing the bass emphasis and HDX options really didn’t do anything to elevate my enjoyment (though you can certainly hear the difference).

    More recently, I got to try the McIntosh with speakers and that improved things quite a bit. This unit makes a lot more sense if you’re going to use it fully. I’m not going to turn this into an “integrated amplifier” review, but with reasonably efficient speakers it’s actually quite a decent listen. Compared to, say, Ragnarok, the McIntosh lacks a bit in drive and dynamics aren’t where I want them, but it’s a wee bit smoother up-top and the signature may be preferable to some.

    The value proposition still seems way off to me; I’d take Ragnarok over the MHA100 without any hesitation (and then spend the difference on an Yggdrasil), but at least with speakers the overall deal moves from “you’re not supposed to be smoking that”, to “pricier than a really very pricey thing, with a bit too much badge going on”.

    As it stands, while I never really looked at this as a serious contender as an Yggdrasil alternative, I was very surprised at just how average it was, especially given the lofty price. There are, in my opinion, many better, and much cheaper, options for the headphone side of things. Bifrost/Lyr (or Jotunhiem) is a more enjoyable and convincing setup. Yggdrasil/Ragnarok stomps it flat.

    I’m not sure I’d still take a Mojo over the MHA100, but I’m not sure I wouldn’t either.
     
    Last edited: Mar 9, 2017
  11. Big D Design

    Big D Design RIP 2021

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    Your reviews are golden....

    Modi 2 Multi-Bit still rates.. Have Mark Levinson No.331 stopping by ...... hoping it will improve the soundstage (bought amp).

    Yggdrasil is still on my list. But it is nice to know that I can still judge parts with my Modi Multibit.

    Manhattan (some kind of breakthru) I read that there is a new product from Schiit coming .....

    How will this affect us?

    Torq. You will have the answers....
     
    Last edited: Mar 9, 2017
  12. johnjen

    johnjen Doesn’t want to be here but keeps posting anyways

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    Having owned Mac gear in the past it seems they have stayed with their design philosophy of make it appear robust, make it not do anything wrong, make it fit into and live in their mystique.

    Which means it doesn't do much that is exemplary either.

    Oh, and charge enough so that it simply MUST be really good gear, because they cost like it.

    JJ
     
  13. Changeling

    Changeling Tube Slut

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    Very well written as always, and this one in particular as I have similar experience being a previously long time Linn customer.
    The "official" Linn forum in Sweden is actually a child of mine from way back ;)
    I might buy back the Unidisk 1.1, a CD player that I actually enjoyed up until about a year ago.

    Anyway I find your impressions similar to mine even though I'm curiously waiting for the Katalyst piece. As a pure DAC, I couldn't hear any difference between the two latest iterations of Klimax and it made me very disappointed. Along with the money I would've had to inject to "upgrade" it made me leave Linn for good.
    I'm sure that Katalyst is great for the full EXAKT user but for me it was the end of the marriage.

    Plus Yggdrasil changed me :)
     
  14. Daveheart

    Daveheart Friend

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    That comment pretty much sums up my impressions of any piece of McIntosh gear I've ever heard (outside of maybe the old MC240 or MC225).
     
  15. purr1n

    purr1n Desire for betterer is endless.

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    We can tell you, but then we'd have to kill you. That's why it's called the Manhattan project. And this is assuming that any of us know anything about it.
     
  16. Torq

    Torq MOT: Headphone.com

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    That would make me think of this place ... whether "official" or not, it seems to get more interesting traffic!

    I figured that one was going to prompt some interest (especially with long-term "Linnies"), given the (+) designation sitting next to it in the 2nd post. That is a bit of a tease, I know. I can't say I couldn't tell the difference between it and it's predecessor. But my 2nd audition of it was more telling that way than the first. And there have been filter updates between those two sessions. So, we'll see ...

    Oddly enough, having Katalyst in the DSM is entirely irrelevant to Exakt with digital sources. The sound of an Exakt system is unaffected by the source, since the DACs that get used will be in the downstream Exakt Boxes or the Exakt Modules on the speakers. That said, once Katalyst is implemented in those modules (the first updates were announced this week I believe) it should bring greater benefits to the system than it will in a DSM feeding an analog/aktiv setup.

    Again, time will tell ...

    I nearly ditched Linn for good a little while back, but for different reasons. I had just done a large upgrade (comprising two Akurate 4200s, Akurate Kontrol/1, Akurate DS/1 and aktiv crossovers for my speakers) and less than two months later, Exakt was announced. Had I known that was in the offing, I'd have waited or bought differently. Sure, I could upgrade by adding an Exakt Box (about $6,000), paying for the DS Exakt upgrade (about $4,000) and running 8 f'ing sets of speaker cables, but having just shelled out more than $20,000 ... this was not tempting at all. Especially as if I'd gone straight to "Exakt" I'd have spent less, had fewer boxes, and much less bloody wiring.

    In the end I was able to work something out with my dealer, but it took almost a year to do that. Fortunately the direction I went in works out better for the upcoming move. The new system is a much better fit for the new place than the old one (which would have taken over the entire space!). Still, I was not happy!
     
  17. Changeling

    Changeling Tube Slut

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    Ah, this was before Leonklou, I'd say around 2002-2003. Linnforum.se
    It's in local language, and if you look at the logo up in the upper left corner you'll see an older address that we had back then, along with the logotype.
    That logo....or logo...a picture of the CD12 some text and a couple of gray squares...anyway back then there was more graphic on the site if I'm not mistaken. Anyway there's a story around that logo that I think the current administrators do not know. I'll tell them when the time is right :) :)
    I was a creative young man in university.

    Yeah I figured that would happen, but I had left the train by then. ... We'll see.

    Ah, you're right!


    See that's the issue I had. I couldn't work out a good deal with mine, and in the end it was just clear to both of us that I was going in a different direction....but I would still buy a CD12 if I found one at a good price :)
    EDIT: He wanted me to upgrade to the latest Klimax DS but the trade-in deal he gave me was just stupid, along with me not hearing the differences and also beginning to think that there was something muddy about the sound in Klimax. He didn't think straight anyway, and in the end I sold the Klimax on another site for a MUCH better deal and instead of going back to my Linn dealer I went to Schiit...plus got some good money left over.
     
  18. Merrick

    Merrick A lidless ear

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    I really hope some of that high end Linn tech trickles down over time. The room is such a major part of the sonic equation in a 2-channel setup and it's so easy to get it wrong.
     
  19. Changeling

    Changeling Tube Slut

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    Agreed. I remember having the Linn tech come over to my apartment back in 2003. He tweaked speaker placement, moved around in the room, listened, gave advice. It was like watching a ballet :D
    And once done the improvements felt very big.
     
  20. Torq

    Torq MOT: Headphone.com

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    I had all the updates and impressions finished and posted (excepting the Klimax DS/3) as of yesterday. It seems the site has been restored/rolled-back about 48 hours, which means those are no longer here.

    I have my originals and backups, so that's not the end of the world; however, after two solid days fighting the goddamn post-editor on formatting (since it is terminally incapable of preserving font size, color, lists etc. and just loves to change the formatting of stuff I don't have selected just for good measure) I lack the will to repost and reformat it all right now.

    If the site stays stable for a few days then, when I can stand dealign with the editor again, I'll repost the last two days impressions etc.
     

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